Director Archives, Archaeology and Museums, Muneer-ul-Islam today inaugurated 6-Day ‘Rafugari’ workshop at SPS Museum here.

Convener, Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), Kashmir chapter, M Saleem Beg and other officials were also present on the occasion.

The workshop is being jointly organized by INTACH Kashmir Chapter and Community, Craft and Heritage Division INTACH New Delhi.

The Director Archives said that the main purpose of ‘Rafugari’ workshop is to impart training to the learners to provide them a chance to earn their livelihood and pave way for conservation and promotion of this age-old skill set to repair shawls, in Kashmir valley.

Experts from Najibabad Uttar Pradesh and Old City Srinagar have been roped in to interact and impart Rafugari skills among trainees who have been shortlisted to attend the workshop.

He termed the workshop as an interaction cum training session between practitioners, experts who have national and international exposure.

“This workshop is a platform for these trainees to learn new skills from these experts of international repute so that they are able to earn for their living and besides the dying art finds new hands for its sustenance,” Muneer ul Islam said.

An official from the Handicraft department said that earlier during Maharaja’s time Kashmiri people knew 56 skills but today only 26 skills have survived and one among these 26 is Rafugari which is dying a slow death.

He said the number of Rafugar’s has declined from last 30 to 40 years which has become a cause of concern for the government, and added that none has been applying for Darner’s or Craft instructor post in Handicraft’s Department resulting in posts lying vacant from years.

Meanwhile, Director Archives said that conducting such workshop has been a learning experience for them and after learning outcomes and making proper observations, future courses will be chalked out.

“Organizing such workshops will be a regular feature in other streams as well like a workshop on preserving artefacts, maintaining labs and etc, and for this, we will collaborate with preservation and maintenance institutes who will teach our staff the preservation of artefacts and maintaining labs,” Muneer Ul Islam said.

Pertinently the Rafugari workshop that began today will culminate on 22 September 2018 with the distribution of certificates among participants.

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